Homeless in Los Angeles: Michael Pharaoh’s Photographs Capture Their Spirit

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Los Angeles is a city that people either love or hate… and the world’s opinion of the place is just as polarized as the people who live there. While the city is known for its many rich and famous, it’s also know for the many downtrodden outcasts that live on its fringes. This isn’t a new trend either… authors like Jack Kerouac and Sterling Hayden spoke of the bizarre place with a sense of awed wonder, love and hate. When New Zealand based graphic artist and photographer Michael Pharoah recently visited America and found himself in Hollywood, his camera focused on the downtrodden in the iconic place.

“I decided to walk around for a couple of days to [see] how many photos I could take of all of the homeless people. It was fascinating to me because we don’t have the same plethora of homeless people as L.A. It was interesting to hear all of their stories and how they came to live on the streets. This project was both a sad yet humbling one.”

It was also a very different direction from Pharaoh’s usual graphic design work, which revolves around crisp and positive imagery with tasteful touches of typography. His images capture both the pain and the spirit of these people who for different reasons – from mental illness to hard luck – haven’t managed to fit into ‘normal’ society. For Pharaoh, like many people in western countries around the world, it’s hard to imagine a country that lets it’s sick and mentally ill go homeless on the street. You can see more of his series on Behance or his professional work at michaelpharaoh.co.nz.

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  1. Jim Bowen

    Another guy with a camera shooting homeless people and creating nice portrait shots. It’s the arse end of environmental portraiture / street, two dimensional images. So over done it’s a cliche. These are good, but just nice shots is nothing, there’s millions of others. Shots of homeless people, captured their spirit but you’ve completely taken away their soul – who they are. Tell us more about them and less about yourself as their story is far more interesting than a plain tale of a man discovering there is such thing as poverty. Two dimensional and exploitative.


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